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Hingham police work to stem drunk driving this holiday season

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  November 19, 2012 01:00 PM

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Photo courtesy of Hingham Police

A photo from the crash last December on Main St. (Route 228) in which an alleged drunk driver crashed head on into a vehicle. Two women in this vehicle suffered serious injuries, one life-threatening. The driver's case is still pending in Superior Court.

Hingham police are offering incentives and cautions in preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to stem drunk driving in and around the community.

According to Sgt. Steven Dearth, the night before Thanksgiving is one of the heaviest travel days of the year, and one of the most popular nights for restaurants and bars.

“That can mean one of the busiest nights for drunken drivers,” Dearth said in a release.

To deter drunk driving in the town, Hingham is adding additional officers, whose sole mission will be to detect and arrest drunk drivers.

This is the third year Hingham has added extra patrols on Thanksgiving Eve and on the Friday and Saturday following the holiday.

According to Dearth, the days chosen are based on the popularity for Thanksgiving weekend for class reunions, college students gathering while at home, and holiday shopping traditions.

“These additional officers will conduct high visibility OUI Saturation patrols, targeting roads where OUI crashes have occurred in 2012,” Dearth said. “The high visibility aspect is an effort is to show a high presence along these roads to further deter potential drivers. Motorists will see more police activity on these nights.”

Funding for the additional drivers will come from a federal community policing grant.

Additionally, to stem drunk driving through the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, Hingham Police are running a designated driver promotion, where drivers can take a pledge to be or use a designated driver.

Contestants that are over the age of 21 and take the online pledge will also be entered to win a free four-hour night out in an 8-10 passenger limonene.

“Our goal is to have at least 500 people take the pledge to either use or be a Designated Driver this holiday season,” Dearth said.

Dearth noted that a designated driver is someone who does not drink the entire night, and is not someone who chooses to drive home at the end of the night because they are the “most sober”.

The pledge is also meant to function as a survey tool, Dearth said, and asks participants if they have ever used or have been a designated driver and where they intent to use theirs this holiday season.

“The use of the online pledge is an attempt to reach a larger audience and further increase awareness among a group who may be using a Designated Driver at a private event or at a house party and not at a business,” where the promotion is usually focused, Dearth said. “Additionally, the average age of drivers arrested for impaired driving in Hingham during the last three years is 34, and this online pledge may be a more effective way to deliver our message.”

In the case that locals still chose to be impaired while driving, Hingham police are also encouraging people to call officers to report erratic driving.

This year alone, 399 calls have come in reporting suspected drunk drivers.

“Obviously, not all those drivers are impaired, but last Friday, Nov. 16, calls from drivers reporting ‘erratic driving’ allowed Hingham officers to remove three alleged drunk drivers from the road within four and a half hours between 8:30 p.m. and 1 a.m.,” Dearth said.

For more information on the Designated Driver contest, click here.

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